Blog for Stephanie Bryant, a writer with too many hobbies and not enough time.

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February 2018

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February Cookies

Lemon coconut cookies!

They have maraschino cherries in the center. We don’t have maraschino cherries, so we substituted with Amaretto cherries. They’re great, but messy! This batch has rinsed cherries. Unrinsed, the syrup from the cherries gets all over the place and makes the cookies delicious, but less aesthetically pleasing.

In not a big fan of coconut. I rarely like it, though coconut based Thai cuisine is delicious. These cookies are therefore “all right” in my book. They’re not phenomenal, but they’re not bad, either.

Lean Coffee for Game Designers

I went to Strategicon/Orccon a week ago. Although a good portion of the weekend was spent working the Monkeyfun booth to sell Threadbare, I also spent some time talking about game design!

Sunday morning at the convention tends to be a “refuel before the last hard night of fun” kind of day, with a lot of hangovers and slow moving folks. Games on Demand doesn’t have any scheduled sessions, so with Tomer‘s blessing, I hosted an 8:30 AM Lean Coffee event for game designers and those who are “game design adjacent.” The idea was for game designers to bring either a Games on Demand pitch for an unpublished game, or a game design topic they wanted to discuss. If they got traction, game pitches would run at 9. Otherwise, we’d just have some structured “shop talk.”

Everyone was a little slow moving and overbooked, so while pretty much everyone who attended brought a topic to discuss, nobody had any game pitches. Which was fine– we had a few latecomers, but generally we had a good discussion about various topics in game design, including:

  • An idea for a Great American Novel game
  • Level up mechanics
  • Consent and Charm in RPGs

I started out by explaining how a Lean Coffee runs– we all write down our topics on index cards, vote on them, and sort them by most votes. Discuss for 3 minutes, then thumbs up or down to decide if we want to keep talking about the topic. If yes, keep talking for 1 more minute, then thumbs up/down again.

Typically, the topics are put into columns: To Discuss, Discussing, Done. I like to add a column called “Take Aways” for ideas that were especially compelling, resources people mentioned, URLs, or follow up items.

I found that we spent about 6-7 minutes on each topic and had a good chat for just under 30 minutes, at which point everyone was ready to move on to their next game sessions.

We’ll definitely do this again at the Strategicon in May, and I am looking forward to seeing some good discussion from those who take up the challenge Jim Sandoval (RPG coordinator) made at the Happy Jacks convention meetup, to make a game between now and Memorial Day and bring it to the next Strategicon and enter it for a prize!

January 2018 Books

#1: Artemis by Andy Weir. Not a sequel to The Martian, this is a sci fi novel set in a future lunar colony. It’s a pretty good book, but I found the protagonist really unlikeable– in stark contrast to the protagonist of The Martian, who wasn’t, say, a criminal who kept insisting that they didn’t deserve consequences for their actions.

#2: For We Are Many by Dennis E. Taylor. Sequel to We Are Legion We Are Bob. The “murky middle” book in a trilogy is always a bit sloggy, but For We Are Many does a decent job of keeping the pace up.

#3: The Phoenix Project by a veritable committee. So, this is recommended in Agile circles as a great read about project management. I can only assume people recommending it don’t know much about fiction. The Phoenix Project is a good fable about an Agile transition, but it starkly lacks 3 dimensional characters, conflict that isn’t heavily telegraphed, or any kind of meaningful internal change. As a fable of Agile transformation, though, it’s great, and if it gets people to buy into Agile, I’m all for it.

#4: One Good Dog. Massive trigger warnings for animal abuse, dog fighting, and entitled cishet rich white dude whining!

#5: Secondhand Souls by Christopher Moore. Not Moore’s best book, probably not his worst.

#6: A Beautiful Work in Progress by Mirna Valerio. Lovely and inspiring book by a plus-sized non-white woman about her love affair with running.

#7: Maid-Sama 11/12 by Hiro Fujiwara. My favorite manga.

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